Martha McSally stated Tuesday that she would support new gun control legislation that would prevent citizens convicted of a misdemeanor stalking offense from legally purchasing firearms in response to an ad put out by the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC.
McSally, a Republican congressional candidate, said in a statement to the Associated Press through her campaign spokesman Patrick Ptak that she “supports the full enforcement of federal laws that are in place to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited persons, including convicted felons (including stalkers), domestic abusers, the mentally ill and people in the country illegally.”
The campaign ad, which McSally had said was “false and malicious” last Tuesday, was being run locally by the Americans For Responsible Solutions PAC.
The ad was entitled “Stalker Gap” and opened with a woman named Vicki relaying the story of how her daughter and her husband were shot and killed by the daughter’s ex-boyfriend after she told him that their relationship was over.
Vicki cried as pictures of her family members appeared on the screen and she said, “He had threatened her before, and I knew. I just knew.”
Then, a picture of McSally appeared on screen with the text, “Martha McSally opposes making it harder for stalkers to get a gun.”
Vicki said at the end of the ad, “I don’t think she really understands how important that is to a lot of women.”
McSally immediately came out through her campaign on Sept. 16 stating the contrary, as she had been subject to a stalker earlier in her life.
The title of the ad, “Stalker Gap,” is a term used to refer to the way the current laws on purchasing firearms are written, according to Pia Carusone, senior advisor to Americans for Responsible Solutions.
The gap is that stalkers convicted of a felony stalking offense cannot legally purchase firearms, but stalkers convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses are not subject to such restrictions, Carusone said.
Patrick Ptak also said in a statement to the Associated Press that “Martha supports adding misdemeanor stalking to the list of criminal offenses that would keep dangerous individuals from obtaining guns in other states where stalking can also be a misdemeanor.”
According to Carusone, Americans for Responsible Solutions, which was founded by Gabrielle Giffords, is trying to garner support for a bill from Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota that would close the stalker gap.
“[The goal of the ARS is] to communicate directly with voters in this country about where candidates stand on important issues on gun violence prevention,” Carusone said.
Carusone said that there was nothing factually inaccurate about the ad and reiterated that stance Tuesday night after McSally’s announcement. Carusone also acknowledged Giffords and said she is “involved in every decision [they] make.”
However, Carusone said after McSally’s statement that ARS is now pulling the “Stalker Gap” ad earlier than they were intending from television and from the internet, including YouTube. Carusone added this is because McSally has changed her mind on closing the firearm purchasing loophole for those convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses and not because of the criticism the ad received.
“If a candidate changes their mind, and render any of our programs inaccurate, we’d be happy to reverse positions,” Carusone said. “This is a recognition that she’s changed her mind and that’s a good thing.”
McSally also called on Ron Barber, her Democratic opponent in the race, to join her in denouncing the ads in her statement on Sept. 16.
The Daily Wildcat received a comment from the Barber campaign prior to Tuesday’s announcement.
Ashley Nash-Hahn, communications director for Ron Barber for Congress, said guns are a huge issue for the Arizona congressional election.
“Southern Arizonans want to know exactly where both candidates stand on important issues like keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and domestic abusers,” Nash-Hahn said. “Ron Barber supports common sense steps like background checks for gun shows and online sales, because stalkers and domestic abusers should not be able to buy guns.”
Nash-Hahn said that Barber would “absolutely” support legislation closing the stalker gap, and, as of Tuesday, that the campaign stands by its comment.
Follow Max Rodriguez on Twitter @njmaxrod